Oct 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Cornyn says when he disagrees with Trump, he does so "privately"

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on October 15, 2020. Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that he's disagreed with President Trump on trade agreements with China, budget deficits, COVID-19 stimulus aid, but he's always brought up his concerns privately — rather than publicly criticize the president.

The big picture: Cornyn is the latest Republican senator to distance himself from Trump amid fears of a potential electoral blowout. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), for example, recently unloaded on the president in a call with constituents, questioning why Republicans thought "selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?"

Driving the news: Cornyn said his relationship with Trump was “maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well."

  • “I think what we found is that we’re not going to change President Trump. He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between."
  • "What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.”
  • “I have found that has allowed me to be much more effective, I believe, than to satisfy those who say I ought to call him out or get into a public fight with him," Cornyn said.

Why it matters: Cornyn, a high-ranking Republican in the Senate, is currently facing a tighter-than-expected re-election race against Democrat MJ Hegar. Weeks ago, Cornyn chided Trump for letting "his guard down" on the coronavirus.

  • “I applaud him for standing up to China but, frankly, this idea that China is paying the price and we’re not paying the price here at home is just not true,” Cornyn told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  • Cornyn described himself as a "defense hawk" and said he disagreed with the use of national security funds to build portions of a border wall, though he voted against a measure that would have blocked Trump's attempt to redirect the funds.
  • He praised the administration when it came to judicial nominations, Hurricane Harvey relief, a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal and tax cuts.

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